The Do's & Don'ts of Helping an Only Child During a Divorce

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During a divorce, there are significant pros and cons to being an only  child. Although an only child doesn’t have to deal with sibling rivalry  that can sometimes worsen during a divorce, he or she does miss out on  the chance to relate to brothers and sisters who are also dealing with  this major change to the family. Follow these do's and don'ts when  helping your only child through the divorce. 

Do Encourage Your Child's Friendships

If your child has friends who have also been through a divorce, you may  want to encourage your child to confide in those friends. Just talk to  the other children's parents first to be sure that's okay! Kids who have  been through a divorce may find it empowering to share their  experiences with their peers. 

Do Reassure Your Child of Both Parents' Affection

An only child needs to be reassured of each parent's love throughout the  divorce. As the changes in lifestyle and sometimes geography occur, an  only child may get especially nervous. After all, in a one-child family,  the child has come to rely on two family members, so having only one in  the house on a full-time basis can be confusing and frustrating.

It  can also feel lonely for some kids who are used to being around both  parents at the same time. Talk to your ex about the importance of  reassuring your child of your love when you aren't around. Offer to do  the same for your ex. Part of finding your way as divorced co-parents  will be making tough choices that are in the best interests of the  child. 

Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep

Be frank and honest during the divorce so that your child knows it's  safe to trust your word. Unfortunately, parents sometimes over-promise  during a divorce because of guilt. However, if you're not sure you can  make it to an event in the child's life, don't promise you will be  there. A child can be especially sensitive during the divorce, and it  can be hurtful when hopes are dashed.

Similarly, don't encourage  your little one to wish that you and your ex will get back together.  Although divorcing parents sometimes leave things open-ended and tell  their kids that the future is unpredictable, doing this can lead to  long-term damage. While the dream of a reunited family may provide  temporary solace, kids can get hurt when they cling to false hope.

Don't Hesitate to Plan for the Unexpected

There  are a lot of factors you won't be able to control during the divorce.  However, you will find that certain things are within your control. You  may not be able to control whether or not your ex shows up for  visitation when he or she is supposed to be there, but you can create a  backup plan. That way, you won't be left scrambling, and your child  won't be left with as much pain if your ex is a no-show.

A backup  plan can be something as simple as having a fun-loving babysitter's  phone number on speed dial or tickets to the local museum you can use  anytime. Going on a fun outing with your child can take the sting out of  the disappointment he or she would otherwise face.

Keep in mind  that offering your support and love is the most important part of  helping your only child through a divorce. If you are considering a  divorce, reach out to the caring attorneys at Cotto Law Firm P.C. who  are happy to help with a variety of family law matters